As families across America endure the repeated deployment of loved ones to Afghanistan and Iraq, many attempt to fill the void with "flat daddies" and "heroes on a stick," life-sized cardboard cutouts of their husbands, wives, parents and children serving overseas. Using these two-dimensional surrogates as a connecting thread, Flat Daddy follows four such families over the course of a year to explore the lasting impact of the war on those left behind.
WHY IS "FLAT DADDY" IMPORTANT?
"They are mothers and fathers who have lost their beloved children to war. They are husbands and wives keeping the family on track while their wives and husbands are deployed, on duty. They are grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers who are taking care of children while single moms or dads in uniform are away."
– First Lady Michelle Obama
Many films have been made about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but none has focused exclusively on the burden borne by the families left behind when a loved one goes off to war, and the challenges they face upon his or her return. The approaching deadline for troop withdrawal in Iraq and debates among policy makers of an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan following the death of Osama bin Laden only make this topic more relevant. Men and women are returning home from these conflicts forever changed by their experiences, and the long-term physical and psychological impact of repeated deployments on troops and their families will have a ripple effect upon the communities in which they live.
"We should not ignore the broader, long-term consequences of waging these protracted military campaigns employing – and re-employing – such a small portion of our society in the effort…. Whatever their fond sentiments for men and women in uniform, for most Americans the wars [in Iraq and Afghanistan] remain an abstraction. A distant and unpleasant series of news items that does not affect them personally. Even after 9/11, in the absence of a draft, for a growing number of Americans, service in the military, no matter how laudable, has become something for other people to do."
– Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Only 1% of the population serves in America’s all volunteer Armed Forces, and in spite of a decade of continuous warfare, many among the civilian majority have little awareness of the challenges faced by service members and their families during and after deployment. Furthermore, 70% of military families reside in civilian communities rather than on military installations. These communities remain largely unaware of the invisible scars returning service members carry, or the complications at home that prolonged separation creates for the entire family. They will therefore find themselves unprepared to provide the kind of support that military families need.
“I think it is important to get the stories out of the strength behind the soldier. We are often the lost voice. My husband is currently serving his sixth tour in Iraq…Watching the trailer of your movie gives me hope that there are people who still haven’t forgotten we are at war… Just wanted to thank you and your crew for not forgetting all of us who were left behind.”
– Jennifer from Texas (via the Flat Daddy mailing list)
We believe that Flat Daddy can be a powerful tool to raise awareness and help bridge the divide between these two sectors of our society. Our film’s intimate storytelling and non-partisan emphasis on family make the experiences of our four families accessible to viewers of all backgrounds and political beliefs. Through a combination of outreach and engagement screenings and broadcast, we hope to provide military families with a foundation for sharing their experience with others, and to convert the empathy and understanding of civilian audiences and policy makers into concrete action and lasting support.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?
We completed a fine cut of Flat Daddy this spring – just in time for an Advance Screening at the GI Film Festival in Washington, DC in May! – but we still need to raise money for our color correction and sound mix and to generate exhibition-quality masters so the film can show its best face to the world. Our DIY approach and the generosity of friends, family, and a few private investors has gotten us this far, but these finishing touches can only be applied by professionals, and we need one last push to make it across the finish line.
WHAT IF WE EXCEED OUR FUNDING GOALS?
Any money raised beyond our $20K goal will be applied towards rolling out our outreach and engagement plan. Extra funds will cover DVD duplication, publicity materials, discussion guides and action plans for community screenings and, occasionally, travel expenses for the filmmakers. We are not being compensated for our work and will see a paycheck only if the film eventually sells for a profit.
Please visit our website and sign up for our mailing list. Stay in touch by liking our facebook page. Watch the directors interviewed on national television and read about Flat Daddy in the Military Times and Stanford Magazine.
- (52 days)